A recent case decided Feb. 10 has the nursing home industry and plaintiﬀ malpractice attorneys clamoring over whether certain measures taken by nursing homes during the pandemic should be immune from plaintiﬀ negligence lawsuits against nursing homes.
On November 17, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced new measures in response to the recent uptick in statewide COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions. The governor issued an executive order imposing capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars and other indoor establishments. The Maryland Department of Health also issued a series of orders restricting visitation at hospitals and nursing homes. The statewide orders carry the force of law and violations are punishable by fines up to $5,000 and up to one year in prison.
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U.S. nursing homes would benefit from a less punitive approach to performance improvement, according to Doctors Without Borders, the international medical humanitarian organization that has been assisting U.S. nursing homes with their response to COVID-19. The organization recently conducted in-person infection prevention and control trainings and provided technical support and wellness sessions to staff and residents in over 50 Michigan nursing homes and adult care facilities, and now is doing the same in Texas.
In an April 3, 2020 letter, Florida’s largest advocacy group for long-term care providers, Florida Health Care Association, asked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to extend sovereign immunity to heath care providers and health care facilities engaged in and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. The letter requests liability immunity (both criminal and civil) for any harm or damages alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission in the course of arranging for or providing health care services in accordance with COVID-19’s emergency rule and state directives. Additionally, the letter requests immunity for the health care facility or health care professional if they are arranging for, or providing health care services, in good faith.